1. Robot slaves
By 2050 our ageing population will mean that one in four Brits will be over the age of 65. With that many golden oldies incoming, we need to get a move on with robot hospitality. So far, we’ve got big droids that can put cars together and small ones that can do a passable job of vacuuming your floor, but none that can look good in a butler’s outfit and bring you a martini. We want tech mates to say, “Very droll, Sir,” as they plonk olives in our glass; too bad we’ll only live to see early, ED209-type models that accidentally burn your kitchen down while trying to make a pot of tea.
2. Budget space tourism
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will soon take 600 early adopters including Stephen Hawking and Russell Brand into a low-Earth orbit, for £200k a ticket. Not many of us have that kind of dough and, anyway, you won’t find new worlds and new civilisations at that distance. What we really need is for Ryanair to invent faster-than-light travel, even though that would involve queues several light years long, having to pay extra if your space helmet was deemed “too heavy” and hostesses with thick, Arcturan accents.
3. Space elevators
Okay, how about a simpler way of getting into orbit? Towers that extend into the stratosphere were first conceptualised in the 19th century and several companies, including Google, have since come up with blueprints for their construction. The most recent is Japanese construction giant, Obayashi Corporation, which is planning one for 2050. Made from carbon nanotubes that are 20x stronger than steel, it’ll be able to carry 30 passengers to the stars at 200kph. Alas, although that is undeniably speedy, the trip will still take seven and a half days, which is too long to endure a muzak version of Do You Know the Way to San Jose? whilst avoiding eye contact with everyone. Obayashi also remains tight-lipped on what precautions it will take against life-threatening in-lift flatulence.
4. Flying cars
It seems that these will still be a dream when the 16K, holographic version of Blade Runner, re-cut by a clone spliced from Ridley Scott’s original DNA and grown in a vat, is available for download to our mind nodes. Firstly, all the “flying cars” being developed today look like winged caravans that have herniated Reliant Robins from their bellies. Secondly, even if somebody did create something like the sleek, sporty flyers of Scott’s sci-fi classic, it’d take until at least 2100 for the government to erect floating traffic lights and speed cameras.
5. Alien contact
We like to think that if we ever met an alien we’d try and build a bridge between our worlds and learn from each other’s cultures, but in reality our reaction is completely dependent on what the alien looks like. If it looks like the Engineer in Prometheus we’ll go all Halo, shooting it in the face and running away. If it’s sexy we’ll try and hump it, Mass Effect style. If it’s small, weak and peaceful it’ll be less than a day before we kill it, put it in a sous vide and serve it with mash. Yep, humans are sh*theads, even in fantasy scenarios.
In real life, this Star Trek plot device would involve scanning you in atomic detail, saving that scan as data, then using said data to assemble an exact replica of you somewhere else. Oh, and disintegrating the original you, so you remain unique. This would involve shifting around Yottabytes of data – modern USB stick tech seems tragically underpowered for the task – and also, as physicist Benjamin Schumacher puts it, “killing you very thoroughly”. Now, we’re not doctors, but that sounds bad.
7. Actual reality computer games
Anyone who grew up watching Red Dwarf will have lusted after the AR machine from season two’s Better Than Life. This allowed Lister and co to plug in and experience any reality of their choosing, with not a polygon in sight. Of course, they mostly used it for bonking celebs – so much so that by season six’s Gunmen of the Apocalypse, Rimmer had worn out the “groin attachment”. We’re not sad enough to want this now, of course, but if they could hurry up and make it by the time we’re 80 it’ll make the retirement home a much happier and even quieter place. Sounds a lot more fun than playing Bridge all day, at any rate.
8. Ghostbusters 3 on Blu-ray
Finally, something we’ll be happy not to see. Directing, writing and acting legends turned pro eaters Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis have a script for a third instalment of the 80s classic, but Bill Murray refuses to sign up. The National Enquirer reckons he actually shredded the script, sending it back with a note attached stating: “No one wants to pay money to see fat, old men chasing ghosts!” Frankly we’d give up all of the above to see the script shredded permanently.